Surgical approaches to the adrenal gland : Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity

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ADRENAL CORTEX AND MEDULLA: Edited by Diane Donegan and Danae Delivanis

Surgical approaches to the adrenal gland

Sada, Alaa; McKenzie, Travis J.

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Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity 30(3):p 161-166, June 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000810


Purpose of review 

Review the literature on the surgical management of adrenal diseases, highlighting the various surgical approaches and their respective pros and cons.

Recent findings 

Minimally invasive adrenalectomy is commonly used for small and benign adrenal tumors, whereas open adrenalectomy is preferred for larger tumors and primary adrenal malignancy. Although minimally invasive adrenalectomy results in shorter recovery and fewer complications compared with open, the latter offers better oncologic outcomes in the setting of primary adrenal malignancy. Adrenalectomy is performed transabdominally or retroperitoneoscopically, both yielding equivalent results and recovery. Traditional laparoscopic or robotic equipment can be utilized for either minimally invasive approach. Subtotal adrenalectomy may be appropriate for patients with genetically associated pheochromocytoma to preserve cortical function and reduce the risk of adrenal insufficiency. However, the potential benefits of sparing adrenal function must be weighed against the risk of recurrence.


Adrenalectomy is becoming increasingly common worldwide. For benign and small adrenal tumors, minimally invasive adrenalectomy is generally considered the standard approach, while open adrenalectomy is preferred for primary adrenal malignancy and larger tumors. Subtotal adrenalectomy may be appropriate for patients with bilateral adrenal pheochromocytoma, as it can reduce the need for lifelong glucocorticoid dependency.

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